Most known for their philosophical approach to literature, stripping it of meaning due to the inherent instability of language to mean what it says, literary deconstructionists Jacques Derrida, Paul De Man, and their cohorts were also lifestyle experts, their writings littered with tips to help folks organize their closets and perform other household tasks with more efficiency.
Here are some of their best life hacks:
How to Fold a Fitted Bed Sheet
First, is the sheet king, queen, or twin-size? Observe, then put that information aside. It has no bearing on the proceedings, unless you have an unnaturally long reach. Are you alone? No? Are you sure? How do you know? Put the sheet on the floor. Find an edge. Make one hand a shovel and slide it inside one pocket. Find its partner. Reject the word partner as a pernicious anthropomorphism. True partnerships are impossible as all human relations are a priori unequal. Is the sheet folded yet? Can you trust your phenomenological experience? Look. Your sheet has unfolded itself in a disavowal of your violent hierarchies. Ball it up and hide it at the bottom of your girlfriend’s closet.
How to Prevent a Tea Bag Tag from Falling into Your Cup
True or false: Your apartment is cold. How can you know what cold is? Have you failed to pay your heating bill? Then you probably need to reuse your tea bags. So it would behoove you to keep the tag dry. Here is a method that has proven efficacious, even for Post-Structuralists, well-known to drink weak tea. First, wrap the string around your drinking vessel’s handle. Next, pour tea. Tag remains outside. Bonus tip: When the tea bag dries, you can put it in your roommate’s footwear to absorb the unpleasant odor. Serge’s sneakers have long been olfactorily — and epistemologically — abhorrent.
How to Remove a Splinter from the Palm of Your Hand
Does it hurt? Would it hurt if you were someone tougher? Admit the truth. Now go further to the truth beneath that truth. Can you see it? I’m talking about the splinter. Keep up. Get some Epsom salt. Put it in warm water. Then read this ten-page exegesis on suffering in the works of the Brontë sisters, including the 100-page footnote on the semiotics of pain, both physical and psychological, impossible to grasp in its organic totality when words are mere substitutes for phenomenological experience. Afterwards, look at your hand. Were you soaking it in the Epsom salt while you read? No? By now it’s probably infected. Amputate it. You only think you need it.
How to Make Cleanup Easy at a Barbecue
The premise “hot meat requires a cold condiment” exemplifies a pitfall in logic based on binary thinking. A burger without ketchup is still a burger. And yet, eat ketchup for itself and you invite censure. It is the difference between difference and differ’ance. Whence the term “hot dog”? Observe the long pink meat, its phallocentrism. Do you subscribe to the hoary patriarchal and masculinist view of this staple of the American barbecue? Do you have your hot dog with ketchup? Ketchup and mustard? How do you live with yourself? Your psyche may remain stranded on a barren island surrounded by a sea of metalinguistic implications, but to make cleanup easy, use a muffin tin to serve condiments.
How to Tie a Tie to Strangle Your Wife and Get Away with It
Wait till your wife is drunk or asleep. Get that first tie she bought for your birthday, the year your marriage was revealed as merely a pretense, an empty void beneath a blank facade. You know the tie we mean. Place it around her neck, the wide end 12 inches lower than the narrow end. Cross the wide end over the front of the narrow end. Wrap each end around your fists. Pull and tighten until the woman you once claimed to love, though that love was a house of cards built on a foundation of unfeasibility, ceases respiration. Establish a good alibi. Or feign madness. Which shouldn’t be hard. After all, you’re a literary deconstructionist. Aren’t you?